Written by Victor Stanley Jr.
Theology & Culture
The shooting of Michael Brown has dominated the news for the last couple of weeks, and there have been ongoing protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri surrounding the controversial killing of this young man. Ferguson’s leaders are now promising to hire more African-Americans to the police force and rebuild the community, while community activists are also calling for a beefing up of the city’s youth programs. There are two types of protesters that police are encountering, those who are peaceful, and those who are aggressive. However, many of the peaceful protests have erupted into riots resulting in people looting, burning businesses, shooting into crowds and at the police, Molotov cocktails being thrown at police, and more. The police have implemented a curfew, schools in three towns, including Ferguson, have been shutdown, and business owners have resorted to arming themselves and standing guard over their stores. Although many of the community leaders and peaceful protesters are calling for peace, they do not hesitate to justify the actions of those who are more aggressive. Art McCoy, a pastor and former superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District stated that, “Rioting is the language of the unheard, and so individuals are taking action… But we need to tell the individuals that there’s a productive way of doing it and that violence has no place here.”
While it is upsetting that once again another young black man has been killed by what can be called, at the least, an overreaction by police, it is even more upsetting that the black community has chosen to respond in such a manner as what is being depicted by the media. I am from Chicago, a city that has become a war zone recently. Over the past weekend there were 35 shootings with 7 people dead, and over 4th of July weekend there were over 80 shootings with 14 dead. The majority of these were black on black violence or other minorities, specifically Hispanics, carrying out violence against one another. In Ferguson one young black man was killed, after he had committed a crime. In Chicago numerous black men were killed. On the one hand you have very foolish people looting and burning down their own community over the murder of a black man, on the other you have no reaction.
It seems that many try to side step the issue by saying that because it is the police doing the killing somehow the reaction of the public is justified, yet police killings do not even scratch the surface in comparison to how many young black men die at the hands of other young black men. What would the reaction be if the cop had been black? What the officer did was unnecessary, but the reaction of the people was also unnecessary. To loot and burn the very community you live in is foolish; to return violence for violence is silliness; to get in an uproar when one black youth is killed because you can holler racism, but then have no response to the mass slaughter of black men by their own people is called hypocrisy. A culture of violence hangs like a black cloud of smog around the inner city especially, but really throughout the world at large, this brings to mind a few verses from Genesis.
 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.  And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:11-13 ESV)
Many people say that the world is becoming worse, but the world is as corrupt and depraved as it has always been. The fall of man was not, and is not, a gradual descent into wickedness, rather it is a plunge into depravity, and we remain there unless we receive salvation through the work of Christ. With regard to the violence in Ferguson fueled by racial tension, this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King rings true:
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Violence plus violence does not equal peace, and will never bring about justice and equality.